We Have No Choice But To Invade Gelato Mio

Yup, I just can’t let it go.

My father always told me, “Son, if you’re gonna do the time, you might as well do the crime.”  So, in the interest of following my father’s advice, I offer the following paragraph (all of which is sarcastic, for fuck’s sake).

I want blood.  No apology from Andy Drennen will ever be sufficient.  There can be no forgiveness.  I don’t want his reputation, I want his head on a pike.  We have no choice but to assemble every atheist within shouting distance and arm them to the teeth before marching into Gelato Mio in an orgy of blood, our automatic weapons ejaculating bullets in every direction, and pausing only to replace our clips and not stopping until Andy and his restaurant are reduced to their component atoms.  We need to find a tank, a healer, and three DPS and we need to assault Gelato fortress and take all their purples.

So there’s that.  Since it seems I need to be as absolutely clear as possible: I DO NOT BELIEVE ANY OF THIS!  But you’d never know it from reading the comments on this across the internet.  Holy crap, the things you can be accused of for thinking a guy’s apology was empty and providing the reasons you have for believing that.

Now, here’s where we really stand.  In my last post I made essentially three points.

1.  Our movement has grown to the point where anti-atheist bigotry now has consequences.  I like this.

2.  I don’t accept Andy’s apology.

3.  I said what it would take to convince me of Andy’s sincerity: a charitable donation.

Yet people came unglued, acting as though I (and PZ, and Adam Lee, and any of the number of other atheists who found his apology to be empty) want to see this man and his family begging for table scraps for the rest of their lives.  So let’s clarify.

Andy Drennen hung up a bigoted sign in his restaurant and got negative online reviews from the people he treated as second-class citizens.  Who is to blame for this, Andy or the atheist movement?  If you do bad things, you get bad reviews.  And yet people act as though we’re dumping termites on his doorway.  What else would be appropriate here?  Bad reviews seem to be a perfectly reasonable reaction and I don’t feel the least bit sorry that it happened.   Should we not have raised hell?  Should we have shrugged our shoulders and said “Huh, I guess we’re just a minority.”  No, we should speak out, which is precisely what we did.  Am I calling for a nuclear strike on his business?  No.  But I don’t mind that we left him negative reviews (and, if his apology is sincere and he really thinks he was in the wrong, then Andy can’t be shocked either).  My point is, stop acting like anybody wants to see this man in a casket over this.  Am I happy to see that bigotry is no longer without consequence as our numbers increase?  Yes.  Do I want to see Andy Drennen drowned in a vat of ice cream?  No.

So what do I want?  I don’t want squat from Andy.  It is Andy who says he’s trying to convince us of his sincerity and I explained why I was unconvinced.  Nobody in the gaggle of comments on yesterday’s post addressed the reasons for why I thought this.  I had a few people accuse me of trying to be a mind-reader.  I’m not a mind-reader, but I see some things (let’s call them “evidence”) that lead me to believe his apology is a means to save his ass, not a genuine expression of remorse.  It was an “I’m sorry, but…” that professed sorrow, but read like a guy more concerned with selling Gelato than regret for contributing to a culture of discrimination.

The diplomats among us always hang on the idea that we firebrands are not changing anybody’s mind (as if that were our only goal and as if we don’t change people’s minds).  Well, here I want to change Andy’s mind, not about what he can get away with, but about whether or not it’s ok to discriminate against us.  It seems like others want to let him off the hook without that realization (or they’re convinced he’s made that realization, which I’ll address shortly) because it will somehow convince Christians that we, the ones leading people directly into hell, are somehow not the bad guys.  I think that’s insane.

Look at his apology.  Consider for a moment that, by Andy’s own admission, he had agreed to give Skepticon attendees a 10% discount before the conference even began.  Why did he do this?  To drive business.  It was a good business decision made at a time when he had nothing to be sorry for because the 10% sale would make him more money.

Now, in his apology, he tells us that he can think of no better way to display just how sorry he is than by doing the exact same thing he did before his transgression.  Only this time it’s not to drive business, it’s as a sacrifice born of remorse.  In one case it’s a boon, in another it’s penance.  Who on earth buys that story?  It’s not about being nice, it’s about not being gullible.

I could give a damn less what Andy does.  I’m not buying his food because I dislike the man and I don’t want my money landing in a collection plate, and I suspect people with the same standards will do likewise.  This is not our fault, it’s his.  However, if he wants to convince me he really means what he says, I told him what he could do: donate 10% of his gross income over a month to a secular charity.  The idea to part with his gross income was not mine, it was his (see the discount he is willing to give).  The 10% was also his idea, not mine, so let’s not pretend this number is arbitrary or something he cannot afford, especially if he’s getting our business back (atheist business minus 10% is better than atheist business minus 100%, Andy knows this, which is why he’s making that offer).  I’m just asking that he do it in a way that could make a difference by giving that 10% to a group who can do some good with it rather than just having it evaporate into a business-saving discount and to do it over a month so the donation is enough to have an impact.  His actions made the world a shittier place.  If he wants to make it right, I think his concern should be with making the world a better place, not with massaging his bottom line.  I’m taking him at his word, I just suspect his word isn’t worth a damn. So, again, let’s not imagine that nothing he can do would ever be good enough to convince me.  I’m just saying that his half-assed effort so far leaves me unmoved.

Like I said before, I’m happy to have my mind changed here.  However, I see his first not-pology and then I see him begging for a way he can move us with his contrition and the best he can come up with is to treat us the same way he was treating us before the event, and my desire to not be duped keeps me from thinking he really gives the first shit about equality.  That keeps me from accepting his apology.

And the thing is, I don’t care if he convinces me.  I think he’s an asshole, and a dishonest one at that.  But if he wants to convince me otherwise, if he wants to convince us like he says he does, this is how he could do it as far as I’m concerned.  As far as I can see right now, he’s treating us like suckers.  I don’t appreciate it.

And lastly, for those of you who think I lack empathy, you can piss right off.  I’m not asking the man be destroyed, I’m telling him what he can do to satisfy the criteria he says he wants to satisfy (atheists accepting his apology and a personal sacrifice he says he’s willing to make, but that he hasn’t made in lieu of making a business decision).  I do this because I have empathy for every atheist who lives in secret because of the effects people like Andy have on society.  I have an intense desire to make the world a better place because I have empathy.  It’s why I do what I do.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • anteprepro

    Gelato remains serious business.

  • sc_a63e0002d1a95a266d7159df34b04e69

    Maybe it should be required that Andy actually watch the whole of Sam Singleton’s act that he judged with his snap judgement? Maybe he can empathize a bit with why atheists dislike religion.


    • Katie Tims

      Maybe, but that could also backfire spectacularly. I thought Sam was over the top, and that’s coming from an atheist. I don’t know many Christians that would appreciate that show at all.

      • Scientist

        That is why I liked Sam. He’s got the courage to get up there and say what we are thinking at times. It’s a comedy routine and I loved it.

  • http://www.celticbear.com Liam

    All his purples?! That’s some phat loot! More DOTs. MOAR DOTS!

  • TV200

    Maybe, just maybe this experience will actually make him think. Perhaps after being on damage control, and the adrenaline wears off, there will be some real reflection on his part.
    I knew a guy who was one of the most abhorrent white power idiots. In fact there was often violence when we happened to run into each other. In his eyes, I was a race traitor. He had a son who he was bringing up to be a proper little hatemonger. One day his son looked at him and said, “Dad, why do we hate the niggers?” He thought about it, and couldn’t come up with a good answer. The best answer he could come up with on the spot was, “I don’t know, we just always have.” But it planted the seed, and he came around to seeing why it was bullshit. It took a while for his actions to match his words, but eventually they did, and we were able to have a friendship.
    I don’t think Andy is quite as sincere as his apology would imply at this time, but maybe, just maybe there will come a time where his actions truly match his words.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I’m not a mind-reader, but I see some things (let’s call them “evidence”) that lead me to believe his apology is a means to save his ass, not a genuine expression of remorse.

    And that makes him different from the rest of the human race how? When we regret doing wrong to others, we regret it, not only for others’ sake, but for our own, because we benefit from others’ respect for us, and are hurt and diminished when we lose that respect. ALL apologies are self-serving to at least some significant degree, so swatting this guy’s apology aside because he cared about himself is just plain stupid and babyish. It’s also hypocritical, as I’m sure you’ll realize the next time you feel you have to apologize for something.

    And yes, when you pretend to judge the “sincerity” of this guy’s apology, you are pretending to be a mind-reader. Since you can’t read minds, the only sensible alternative is to judge the gelato guy’s sincerity by his ACTIONS. Specifically, has he engaged in any discriminatory behavior since his apololgy? If not, then his apology is as sincere as you’re going to get.

    However, if he wants to convince me he really means what he says, I told him what he could do: donate 10% of his gross income over a month to a secular charity.

    Extorting a tribute? Whoever first came up with that idea, your demanding tone here realy doesn’t make you look like the mature party. In fact, it makes you look like a loser milking his first taste of power for all he can possibly get, just to show others he’s tough. And if you’ve already rejected his apology, he has no reason to believe you’ll accept anything else he does as sufficient (for starters, how do you plan to verify his donation is really 10% of his gross income?).

    Seriously, grow the fuck up and move on. There’s more important battles to fight.

    • Chris

      ^ this

    • Jay

      Well put.

    • Scientist

      Raging Bee. Who are you to say to whom JT should or should not apologize. Bigotry is a big deal and the reason I am still in the closet. All the bastards out there like Andy keep me and my kids from living life in all the ways we would like to. I agree 100% with JT.

      • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

        All the bastards out there like Andy…

        That’s the problem: you’re treating him as one of an undifferentiated mob, not as a person responsible for his own actions.

        The other problem, of course, is that you’re judging his entire character based on ONE incident that shows no sign, at this time, of being repeated. Kinda like how Christian bigots treat atheists.

    • Jon

      This is a bit over the top. As RB said, it really strikes a petulant tone. I mean you’re demanding a donation from a small business owner to satisfy your desire for authenticity? Is that your price, then? And would you know he didn’t do that to save his business as well? Or do you think donating to a secular charity is so abhorrent to him that he would never do so unless your demands for penance drove him to?

      Look, I get it. We do suffer at the hands of religionists. No doubt about that. And yes, a voting public that uses rational thought would be lovely. But using our collective might to demand how this man expresses his remorse and gets on our less-wrathful side is a destructive waste of productive energy. Not to mention that it’s setting a very poor precedent for future interactions with the religious community. We don’t want their fear of the law or of our pharyngulators. That just inverts the power imbalance. We want them to see that we are humans before we are atheists and that we respect them as fellow citizens, not detest them for being born into bigotry.

      This is why the Skepticon Crew’s actions are laudable. They went and talked to the guy and had ice cream with him. They understood that building bridges within the local community and coming-out mean addressing and accomodating conflicts to move beyond innate differences in a mutually respectful fashion.

      I know you pride yourself on being a firebrand, but in this case it seems like you’re being a firebrand for the sake of doing it; not because you expect him to (genuinely?) acquiesce to your demands, but because demanding it allows you to feel powerful over the former oppressor.

      Absolute power corrupts absolutely and thus demands discretion in its exercise.

      You’re a magnificent advocate for and voice within the movement. See to it that this remains the case.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Oh, and please cut the self-pitying complaints that we’ve ignored, misunderstood or misrepresented your position. We’ve done neither, and such complaints really don’t enhance your credibility.

    I do this because I have empathy for every atheist who lives in secret because of the affects people like Andy have on society.

    If you really had empathy, you’d choose your battles more wisely.

    • Crommunist

      Yup, if there’s one thing JT’s known for, it’s his lack of empathy.

      Seriously, Bee? Invoking the “there’s more important battles to fight” meme? You know better than that. You know who is out there fighting the more important battles all the damn time? I’ll give you a hint – his name rhymes with “JT Eberhard”. Not accepting an insincere apology and writing two blog posts explaining why is hardly fighting wasted battles to the detriment of other issues.

      • Katie Tims

        “DD Memehard”?
        *brain explodes*

        • Richard


  • Chris

    “I’m not a mind-reader, but I see some things (let’s call them “evidence”) that lead me to believe his apology is a means to save his ass, not a genuine expression of remorse.”

    That’s the very definition of mind-reading (i.e. seeing “evidence” for something when that is entirely based on your biases and perceptions). This is a distortion of reality.

    • Crommunist

      That is, by the way, not even close to the definition of mind reading. If someone is rushing at me with a knife and a glint in their eye, it is not “mind reading” to assume they’re trying to hurt me, rather than offering to help me with an invisible giant birthday cake.

      • Chris

        So what’s the objective evidence the man is not truly remorseful? In your example, there is objective evidence, though you may err, especially if no collaborative evidence exists…that is, does he have a reason to attack you? A ‘glint in the eye’ hardly demonstrates objective evidence (he could be saving you from an attacker).

        What JT, and other here are doing is assumption of his intents and words. Assumptions tend to be based on personal perception and biases, not on objective evidence. And those operationalizing an adequate apology are demanding the man go above and beyond what would be required in civilized society. He apologized, made a gesture of good will, move on.

        • Crommunist

          By your standard, no interpretation of any human behaviour is ever possible because we can’t have objective evidence. It’s a ridiculous standard though – we have to interpret human interaction all the time through whatever lens we have. We can use our prior experiences with apologies and the patterns of behaviour demonstrated by truly contrite people to judge the sincerity of an action.

          For example, if I roll my eyes as you present your ridiculous “mind reading” argument, you would be accurate far more often if you interpreted that as irritation and condescension than if you interpreted it as me wanting to get as much of a view of the room as possible without moving my head. Either of those things could be true, but we can use contextual cues and other social information to guide our interpretation. In the same way, when we know what an insincere apology looks like, we can use contextual cues to judge whether or not Gelato Mio’s owner actually understands what he did wrong, or if he’s just trying to save face. JT has demonstrated that process in writing.

        • Richard

          I’m sorry, but you’re a mind reader. :D

    • Stephen

      No, mind reading is where you read someone’s mind. Come on, it’s right there in the name.

  • Art Vandelay

    The idea that a bigot like this would see the error of his ways on his own and this wasn’t just a response to bad PR is laughable to me and I consider anyone who doesn’t see that to be incredibly gullible. It’s more likely that the creator of the universe sacificed himself to himself to appease himself 2000 years ago.

    I don’t give a shit about apologies because I don’t think words excuse actions. Actions excuse actions and a 10% discount on Gelato is not exactly what I’d have in mind.

    Why doesn’t Andy hang a sign on his door stating something like…

    “We serve everybody in this secular restaurant spite of what they do or don’t hold sacred, becasue believing in something in the absence of any empirical or logical evidence is your right…but it’s not a virtue.”

    Yeah…that seems to fit the crime. I fhe really is remorseful, he shouldn’t have a problem hanging that up.

    • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

      The idea that a bigot like this would see the error of his ways on his own and this wasn’t just a response to bad PR is laughable to me and I consider anyone who doesn’t see that to be incredibly gullible.

      How much did Karl Rove pay you to say something that stupid? There’s plenty of atheists telling stories of bigots seeing the error of their ways — including comment #4 on this very thread, which you clearly did not even bother to read. When you deny this observable reality, you deny atheists an important means of reaching out to others and winning allies. Who benefits from such denialism?

      • Art Vandelay

        Did you read the last paragraph on #4. Apparently not.

        Do you actually believe that this guy would be such a bigot as to put up a sign on his restaurant banning people for not believing the same fairy tales as he does and then just 10 minutes later hid fucking word view just does a complete 180? That’s not how it works. Damage control. Such obvious damage control it’s not even funny.

        I don’t really understand the Carl Rove analogy but I’m not sure how being skeptical of the sincerity of an apology makes me a Republican.

        • Laurence

          I think the simpler explanation is that people often make bad decisions when they are emotional. When people calm down from being emotional, he realized what he had done and took the sign down. Sure, he only apologized when he realized that it had become a big deal, but I don’t think that many people would have made the effort to apologize unless a big deal was made. We typically only try to make amends when we realize that someone caught us in our bad act. This is a pretty common human trait, and I don’t think there is enough evidence to assume any additional maliciousness towards Gelato dude. If you have some, I’d love to hear it.

          • Art Vandelay

            Don’t we already know that all of this came about because someone from Reddit contacted him and told him about the backlash?

            I’m only explaining why I don’t feel his apology is sincere and I think he’s still probably a bigot. I’m not implying that he should be the target of additional malice. He’s a tiny, tiny part of the problem.

        • TV200

          I didn’t mean to imply that I thought it would happen. I was just observing that it could.
          I have no idea whether or not this will do anything to make this Andy fellow reevaluate his bigotry. “Oh, shit, someone pushed me too far, and as a result I fucked up, I’m sorry” is not really an apology, it can’t stand on it’s own merit, and really can’t be expected to placate everybody. There has to be a consistency between words and actions to convince people like me of sincerity, and that doesn’t happen overnight.

    • Chris

      I think it’s incredibly jaded and cynical to not believe his apology. Yes, it has hurt his business in all likelihood, and that is plenty reason to correct behavior and apologize. It doesn’t make it less sincere.

      What constitutes as “adequate apology” is nothing more than forcing your own beliefs on him. He likely does not view his restaurant as a “secular restaurant,” but more likely just a restaurant. Second, the owner DOES believe it is a virtue to have faith, i.e. have belief in something without requiring empirical evidence. Believing a sign that takes control from his own ability to define his business and to espouse something he doesn’t believe seems, well, bigoted.

      The fact that you throw the word “bigotry” is interesting. Do you not think many people in the skeptic community are not bigoted? Bigotry is a belief that you are superior or animosity to other people based on some aspect of identity, such as race, sexual orientation, or religion/belief/non-belief. Does not require overt behaviors (that’s discrimination, and yes, Andy did demonstrate discrimination).

      • Art Vandelay

        Oh wait…I’m not saying that he has to do this or even saying that I require an apology that I find acceptable. I don’t even care about that. It just seems like more of a reciprocal action.

        Second, the owner DOES believe it is a virtue to have faith, i.e. have belief in something without requiring empirical evidence.

        Okay how about this…

        “Believing in something in the absence of empirical or logical evidence will provide you no priviliges in this establishment.”

        There. If that’s his stance now and he likes putting up signs stating his stance, put up a sign.

    • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

      The idea that a bigot like this would see the error of his ways on his own…

      Isn’t that how a lot of religious people become atheists, despite being surrounded by bigots trying to fill their heads with nonsense?

  • John-Henry Beck

    I’m not sure what this complaint is about JT picking the wrong battles to fight. What battle is he fighting?

    As far as I can tell, JT is just refusing to accept the apology. No calls to actually do anything to Andy or his shop.

    Seems people like Raging Bee and Chris are making a fight of it to insist that he accepts the apology, apparently just because one was made.

    • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

      I couldn’t agree more!

    • illuminata

      Bingo. Making an issue out of JT’s not accepting a not-pology makes the claims of the “bigger issues to fight” empty and obvious.

  • Crommunist

    JT – not accepting his apology is your prerogative. I think, though, by condemning him you are closing the door to an opportunity to show him why he was wrong. He is at least willing to make noises that suggest he knows that what he did was wrong. The next step is to show him the reasoning behind the offense. Chances are, this guy sees himself as a persecuted minority – people like that are notoriously difficult to shake out of their holes.

    I don’t know if you read my post about Sepp Blatter, but it’s a remarkably similar situation – an unthinking, stupid, and bigoted action committed from a place of ignorance borne of privilege. We can either get angry about it, or we can do what minorities HAVE to do to fix situations like this – roll up our sleeves and seize the teachable moment.

    • RhubarbTheBear


    • Cwayne


  • Reginald Selkirk

    Invasion is so old-fashioned. We need to occupy.

  • Lana C

    “He likely does not view his restaurant as a “secular restaurant,” but more likely just a restaurant” Says Chris. Well, say I, see the original sign. He already established that his was a christian business. You can’t just go around amending his own written words for him. The dude said what he really thought the first time around. You know how they tell you not to change your answer on a test because you were probably right the first time around? That. He changed his mind about the wisdom of putting his religious beliefs in his store window, not about what he really believed. Now personally, I feel that anytime the atheist community make their hurt and displeasure known in a legal manner and make a christian ‘eat crow’, that it is a total win, and I am personally satisfied with that. But there is also a measure of hurt that this sort of discrimination creates, and a pretty little letter of apology that details how insulted he was by the speaker, and a conciliatory restoration of a measly 10% off gelato, do not make him seem terribly genuine. It makes him seem like he didn’t realize that he was dealing with actual people in the first place.

  • Rieux

    It seems to me the more fundamental problem with Drennan’s apology is that it never comes close to addressing the religious privilege that led him to do what he did in the first place.

    This guy walked into the convention, saw Sam Singleton challenging (oh noes!) the things he believes (and, I gather, an atheist audience eating it up), and he went ballistic. Does Drennan recognize that it’s not actually unethical for Singleton, or any atheist, to challenge religious ideas? To mock them? To make fun of various scraps of ancient mythology? I certainly don’t see any recognition of that in what he’s produced.

    As Adam Lee put it in his “Further” Daylight Atheism post yesterday:

    Christians in America speak as if their beliefs deserve a special protection from criticism, that they should be exempt from the kind of criticism and, yes, mockery that they don’t bat an eye at when it’s directed at other ideas.

    That is the basic mistake that Drennan made. (And the comment threads on atheist blogs this week demonstrate that a depressingly large number of atheists—guh—make the same mistake.)

    I’m willing to accept an apology. I’m willing to accept it without a monetary donation. But I’m not willing to accept an apology that doesn’t even try to face the fundamental prejudice that caused the misbehavior in the first place.

    We live, and Sam Singleton was certainly doing his thing, within a free marketplace of ideas. As long as religious people (and, alas, too many atheists) continue to pretend that nonbelievers who treat religious beliefs in the same way we’re allowed to treat any other kind of idea have somehow violated some basic rule of civil behavior, I don’t see any reason to forgive or ignore said religious people’s retaliation.

    I want to see Andy Drennan admit that Sam Singleton and his receptive audience had every right, legal and ethical, to say and do what they said and did. I want to see him concede that it is simply wrong to treat Singleton-and-his-audience’s behavior as if it were some kind of attack on Drennan or any other religious person. I want to see him openly accept that the proper response to speech he finds offensive is counter-speech—speech that explains why Singleton is mistaken—and not illegal attempts to violate scummy atheists’ civil rights.

    Drennan’s apology doesn’t contain anything of the kind. I don’t think the elephant in the room—Drennan’s privilege—ought to be so readily swept under the carpet, either by Drennan himself or by his defenders in the atheist blogosphere.

    • Art Vandelay

      Excellent. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • sc_a63e0002d1a95a266d7159df34b04e69

      Beautifully put. The elephant in the room here is Christian/Religious privilege. And privilege is highly invisible to those who are acting under its influence (and I have some experience with this myself being white and relatively well-off.) I have a feeling that the apology is sincere, but that the store owner really is currently unable to see what the real problem with the sign is…

      • Rieux


        To go entirely meta, am I the only one who thinks that the religious-privilege meme—that is, the tendency to call out this kind of privilege by using the word “privilege”—has really come into its own in 2011 specifically? I know I’ve been blathering about it, using the P-word all over the place in comments hither and yon, for many years… but it seems to this (totally biased) viewer that the term itself has really become common currency on the atheist blogosphere just in the past six or seven months or so.

        And I think that’s awesome.

        Maybe I’m too wedded to the concept, but I’d even say that it’s open defiance of religious privilege that is the defining principle of “New” (or, better, Gnu) Atheism. Other atheists lack god-belief and deal with that and with the surrounding society in various ways, but what I think makes Gnu Atheists Gnu Atheists is our determination to openly violate privileged (and destructive) expectations about how religious ideas, customs, and institutions ought to be treated.

        Of course, defiance of religious privilege isn’t something that just started in 2004; critics of religion have been hacking away at it for centuries. But that just means that Gnu Atheism isn’t New; and, well, duh. (The only new thing is that we’re actually starting to make some social headway. Robert Ingersoll, Margaret Sanger, and Madalyn Murray-O’Hair, among plenty of others, were Gnus—notwithstanding the fact that they’re Old and indeed dead.)

        And one certainly doesn’t need to use the term “religious privilege” in order to be a Gnu. I think it really helps make the critique clear, though, so I’m happy about the direction the general discourse seems to me to be taking.

        • Crommunist

          I started talking about it more than a year ago but you’re right insofar as it has only become common parlance in the last little while. I suspect that has more than a little to do with the mainstream acceptance of feminist thought within this community.

          • Rieux

            Not buying the hypothesis that it’s all me, huh? Fine….

            Whaddya think about the notion of defiance-of-R.P. as a/the definitional element of gnu atheism?

    • John-Henry Beck

      I very much agree.

      I don’t feel like accepting the apology without real signs that he really grasps what was wrong and why. The apology only brushes against the part about the overt discrimination. There’s no real actions to indicate he’s learned anything. So I see no particular reason to go making him feel better, and giving everyone the impression all is brushed under the rug and forgotten, by accepting the apology.

      And I don’t see why that’s so controversial.

  • RhubarbTheBear

    I actually thought you were serious until I got to “purples”. Geez, I need to step away from the internets for a while.

  • Katie Tims

    Much better. You sound far less like an ass now J.T.

    …although I would totally gank the N00b for free purples.

  • melissa

    I completely agree that what he did was wrong, but didn’t he only put the sign up because someone from the convention was doing something extremely defamatory to Christianity? He was provoked, and he acted rashly. He’s since apologized and is taking a hit to his business, I feel like that should be enough. I haven’t gotten to go to Skepticon yet because of school, but maybe the convention organizers should be more vigilant when it comes to respecting other ideas.

    For the record, I am an atheist who finds religion demeaning and vacuous, but I also think that offending the people who do practice religion is not going to help our cause. It’s just going to make them shut their minds to us even more.

    • Karl Corwin

      That’s right. We should all be nice quiet atheists so that we don’t encroach on religious privilege. How dare we question and confront? We should hold the hand of those that are offended at our mere existence. Better yet, so that we don’t cause offence, we should not publicly meet and shield their delicate eyes from our view.

      Remember your place and sit at the back of the bus. Fuck that!

      Nice going with your attempt to blame the victim.

  • KL

    You know what this looks like to me?

    It looks like the guy who owns the store is a douchebag. He retreated from his actions because they were illegal but he’s still a douchebag.

    So now a bunch of atheists are morally outraged and clutching at their pearls because he dares to think such bigoted things. Now what is the “rational” response? Have a tantrum on the internet! Nothing will be resolved (not that it ever had a chance to be resolved) and we just end up with more douchebags. Those of you who are having a hissy fit really do seem to be bickering about what is or is not ok to think.

    This whole thing is stupid and childish. Also, way to demand money from the guy PZ. If a religious persion tried to pull that kind of bullshit you’d be all over ther ass. Keep it classy.

    • Karl Corwin

      You know what you should like to me? An idiot who doesn’t have comprehension skills.

      We shouldn’t be outraged at bigotry and discrimination? The “rational” thing to do is act in what way we are able to shine a light on the behavior so that people realize it’s wrong. I can guarantee that, even if he remains a bigot, he’ll think twice before attempting to discriminate again. And I’m pretty sure that with the national coverage, many other businesses will get the same message.

      When did PZ demand money? Are you a complete moron?

      • KL

        I don’t see people simply shining a light on this. I see people stomping their little feet and getting upset that Drennen is a bigot. I don’t think having a tantrum on the internet is going to help anyone realize why what he did was wrong. He’s not going to change his mind. He has a right to think what he wants. He doesn’t have a right to prevent atheists from going to his business (which incidently he isn’t doing anymore, fancy that).

        Also, I find it entertaining that you accuse me of comprehension problems when you seem to have missed PZ’s point 3 that requires Drennen to make a monetary donation as a token of his sincerity.

        He’s allowed to be insincere. He’s stupid but being an insincere douchebag is not a crime.

        • Karl Corwin

          You still want to pretend you have comprehension? This is JT’s blog, not PZ’s. And do you have any clue what the difference is between suggesting and demanding?

          So, let’s review. JT suggested that a donation be made to charity as a goodwill effort. You stated, “way to demand money from the guy PZ.”

          With that kind of comprehension, I don’t think anyone will be taking your interpretation of the situation seriously.

          • KL

            My bad. Swap PZ for JT and we’re settled. See, I can admit my mistakes. Can you?


            PZ still posted this and I wonder what his opinion of the 3rd point is.

            This whole thing is retarded. Drennen already backed down. He’s still allowed to be a bigot. Or is he not allowed to have his own thoughts now and is the “atheist” goal to assure that everyone must think like us or else?

          • Karl Corwin

            You haven’t admitted that you were wrong about anyone demanding money. You’re setting up strawmen to validate your personal feelings. No one said he’s not allow to be a bigot. No one claimed he has to think like us. He can think any way he wants. He didn’t even have to make an apology.

            Now, let me tell you what everyone else is allowed to do. We’re allowed to voice our disagreement/anger/hatred/views about Andy’s actions. We are allowed to place as much or little importance to this issue as we damn well please. We are allowed to use our influence (individually or as a group) to draw attention to what we deem as important. We are allowed to make an individual decision on whether or not to accept Andy’s apology.

            For someone that professes to care about not trying to make others think alike, you sure are getting worked up simply because some people aren’t thinking like you. I can’t remember a post on here from anyone that has not accepted his apology that states everyone else shouldn’t accept it. I know that I (along with many others) have simply stated why I don’t accept it. The only people on here that are making any kind of “demands” are those that are upset because not everyone is a “graceful” or “forgiving” as they are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1699937447 joshuacox

    What’s with the This Will Destroy You album art?

  • LawnBoy

    If you want plenty of face-palm action, check out how the incident was treated on a local conservative talk radio show: http://www.ksgf.com/podcasts/reedpodcast/134321563.html (starts at about 9:20).

    He gets the basic story wrong (he thinks we made a commotion in front of the store), but he also goes off the rails a lot by talking about how the intimidation and retaliation we showed is straight out of the left’s playbook.

    He displays no self-awareness of the irony of “look at how these evil, horrible people who hate everything good insult us.”

  • Jay

    I’m not a mind-reader, but I see some things (let’s call them “evidence”) that lead me to believe his apology is a means to save his ass, not a genuine expression of remorse

    Would love to hear about that “evidence” you speak of.

    • Richard

      I’m sorry that you want to see the evidence, but you haven’t read the source material.

  • John

    It seems some of the Skepticon Folks are relishing the power they are holding over Gelato Man and his pathetic little business. They have his fate in their hands and they are loving it. Some Morons are going down there today to “mystery shop” him and see if he really has a changed attitude. Others want him to donate money or give them free ice cream to demonstrate true repentance. Why not throw him into a lake and see if he floats. Ug

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.folkemer josephfolkemer

    Forgiveness is not easy, nor is it common. Forgiveness is hard, yet we received it from Mr. Drennen. Regardless of who is actually right or wrong, Mr. Drennen forgave us for what he perceived as an assault on, not only his ideology but, himself and everyone who calls themselves christians. That’s not what it was, but that’s how it appeared to him initially. Despite this visceral reaction, he quickly bit the bullet and publicly apologized. The actual motives for this are not only unknowable, but completely moot precisely due to the aforementioned.

    Should we not accept his every positive action and oppose his every negative action?

    Others outside of our community will likely see his apology as sincere; do we want to appear as bitter atheists? Do we really want to be bitter atheists? Are we at war with christian persons, or are we against dogmatic ideologies that invoke emotional responses versus rational ones? As far as I can tell, Andy Drennen is a human who makes good decisions and bad decisions; decisions sometimes grounded in rationality, and decisions often driven by emotion.

    In what shall we base our decisions?

    • Cheron22

      “Forgiveness is not easy, nor is it common. Forgiveness is hard, yet we received it from Mr. Drennen”

      FUCK YOU.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.folkemer Joseph Folkemer

        Practicing our brevity are we? ಠ_ಠ Tell me how you REALLY feel.

    • jsnb

      Nice post Joseph F.

      I wonder if the to forgive or not forgive split may be correlated to the authoritarian/liberal dichotomy. I think authoritarian personalities are less likely to forgive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.folkemer Joseph Folkemer

        Thank you.

        Those who are conservative generally tend to rate lower in a personality trait psychologists call “openness to new experience.” Conservatism tends to imply a preference for ‘the way things used to be’ or ‘the way things ought to be,’ as well as the ever ubiquitous aversion to those who look/behave atypical. I can imagine how this might imply that opinions of others that are formed during important events (first meetings, evocative meetings) are similarly intractable in a more conservative mindset.

  • jsnb

    Sorry for the cut and paste, but I thought this story intoday’s National Post was really helpful in putting apology and forgiveness into perspective.


    CALGARY —Minutes after tearfully reading her victim impact statement, detailing how her life was destroyed when she was pulled off a Calgary street and raped by a stranger about four months ago, the assailant wept as he apologized.

    Then, she unexpectedly forgave him in provincial court.

    “I’m really, really sorry for what I did to you,” Nigel Stimson, 19, told his victim after pleading guilty to sexual assault.

    “I have problems with alcohol and I shouldn’t have been drinking that night. It was one of my probation conditions. I don’t even remember you or what happened. I’m really sorry. I know I hurt you, I know I hurt your family. It hurt me, too.”

    The woman, then back sitting in the gallery, burst out crying again.

    “I’m sorry, too,” she replied. “I forgive you. Get some help. Thank you, Nigel.”

    Earlier, the woman told court the greatest impact on her life from the attack, which occurred shortly after she had a chance encounter with Stimson at a city light rail transit station after attending a concert and drinking with friends, was that she lost her 10-year relationship.

    “My partner can’t get over the thought of someone else being inside me,” she said. “I can’t think of sex without thinking of this.

    “This has affected my trust. I feel dirty and unworthy. I’m always thinking of what people might think of me. . . . I see the hurt and pain in my family. . . . I never knew people were capable of these things. I sometimes feel he just should have finished the job.”

    Crown prosecutor Rosalind Greenwood and defence lawyer Adriano Iovinelli jointly proposed a four-year sentence to Judge George Gaschler.

    Both sides agreed Stimson would have to provide a DNA sample, not own or possess any firearms or other weapons, and be registered as a sex offender.

    Gaschler adjourned sentencing until Dec. 13.

    • Richard

      Part of me just died inside. You have murdered part of my heart.

  • GaryU

    You’re right, JT. “I’m sorry, but…” is not an apology. It’s rationalizing. I’m with you. The guy is just a bigot doing damage control.

    • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

      Aren’t all apologies — sincere or not — a form of damage control?

      • Richard

        I’m sorry, but I think you might be right a little bit there.

        • Anonymous

          I’m sorry…

  • brianbolhofner

    Your stance is rational and displays you’ve carefully considered Andy’s rational motivations for his apology. But it’s a hypocritical stand to take. Have you never done anything with an irrational motivation? Never fallen prey to a group mentality, painting everyone into a “for us” and “against us” column? Never heard of a crime of passion? Your “I don’t forgive you” mentality smacks of pettiness and insecurity.

  • http://moltosostenuto.blogspot.com vltava

    I’m down – I can tank on my pally or dps on my mage.